I discovered to my relief when I woke up this morning that I am actually not quite as nervous pre-race now. It was also a relief that the weather forecast had been gradually pushing the gale further back into Sunday morning, so although there was a chance of rain, at least I wasn't going to get blown away. Hubby drove me in and dropped me off. For some reason he felt we needed to be there an hour before the off. The consequence was that by the time I joined the assembly in the slow start pen (70 mins plus) I was pretty damp and on the verge of hypothermia. There appeared to be at least a thousand of us with dark blue numbers in the slow pen and I looked around for Poppypug's number without much hope.
At last, around 20 minutes after the elite guys set off, we were allowed to toddle forwards. A few minutes later I trotted over the start mat and pressed my Garmin.Id decided to follow my 21/2 minute run 30 second walk plan which had served me well in the York 10 mile race. I'd recorded a PB of 1 hour 14 minutes within that 10 miles so I was hopeful that this time, knowing I didn't have another 6K to run I might improve on it again.I'm not as embarrassed about walking in the early stages of a race now , although watching everyone surge ahead of me is a bit disconcerting. However I usually found myself overtaking those who had overtaken me soon after I started running again, so my confidence in 'Jeffing' was reinforced.
For those who don't know the Abbey Dash route I can only echo other people's opinions that it is very, very boring. Most of it's up a closed dual carriageway and back down the other side, past an uninspiring vista of terraced houses, garages and light industrial estates. You get a brief glimpse through the trees of the rather lovely Kirkstall Abbey but then its about turn and heading for home. By halfway I'd warmed up enough to remove my rain jacket and tie it around my waist. The kilometre markers were really big and bright yellow which was great. It is so good to have visible reminders of how far you have run. Soon it was 9 and we were running past the fire station and the promised applauding firemen. I dallied briefly with my idea of collapsing and demanding CPR but realised that my rather flushed and extremely wrinkly visage would not perhaps elicit the response I dreamed of. In any case I was rather set on achieving a PB by this time and my Garmin promised it might just be doable if I got a spurt on. Accordingly, I gave up my final walk break and tried to respond to the cowbells and rattles greeting us as we approached the Headrow. A finishng sprint was beyond me, but I was able to keep on at a steady rate until I heard the beep beep of the finishing mat. I stopped the Garmin and gave a rather inappropriate whoop as it flashed up that I had a new PB! Not only that, but on either side of me as I crossed the finish line were runners with bibs from the sub 70 start pen! Of course I hadn't gone sub 70. They had just been slower than they intended. But it was a good feeling...
I picked up my finisher's tee-shirt (no bling for heaven's sake!) and a water bottle, and heard the hubby shouting at me over the barrier. I felt pretty good, if a trifle wobbly and was just slurpng water and posing for hubby to take a pic when a lady came hurtling towards me from the other side of the barrier and flung her arms around me. It was Poppypug! How amazing was that? She'd recognised me from my profile pic . There was just time for a celebratory photo before we had to part (promising to race together again) and head for home. What a lovely lady!
My Garmin showed I'd cut a minute and a half off my PB. I'm still waiting for the official results to go up but that'll do me. Bath half marathon here I come!
PS Rather like my hashtags too Poppypug!